August 16, 2010
“God Is Working, Again!”
I just finished another church meeting! As a pastor I do lots of those in the course of a month and year. There was a time when I dreaded them and saw them as just another necessary means to an ends of doing church business. That all changed for me in the fall of 2006. I had been assigned as an interim pastor to a small, rural congregation that had experienced its share of hurt and struggle in its faithfulness to be a viable family of faith. There were several reasons why they had struggled in years past. Some of those reasons were theirs and others had to do with decisions and events outside of their control. Anyway, both had taken its toll on this family of faith. When I went to become their interim I, too, was pretty beat up. I had just left a job I loved as the Chaplain of the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco for 12 years, I was going through a divorce from my wife of 25 years, and my best friend had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Needless to say I didn’t bring that much to the table for them. I was broken, hurt, angry, guilty, disappointed, betrayed, with little confidence and not much of a self left. This interim was all that was available to me so I girded up my loins and accepted the appointment because when it all comes down to it I am a United Methodist pastor and I go where I am sent and called.
The first sermon I preached I broke down and cried through most of it. Actually I cried through most of the first few I preached there. I just couldn’t get through it. It was all too close and I was too raw. I think they were beat up pretty bad too and they just seemed to understand and let me go with it. After a few Sundays I began to find my way there. Their acceptance and love me as I was, broken and all began to heal me. I think God might have used me to help begin healing them too. I don’t really know what happened there but all of a sudden there began to be an excitement about being at church. It even began to find its way into church meetings. Can you imagine that? All of a sudden I began to realize that every time the church met it was an opportunity to sense and get a feel for where God was moving and sort of join in with what God was doing among us there. Attendance at everything began to grow. People didn’t want to miss out on that next opportunity in whatever form it was sensed and expressed. We began to learn that church meetings could become more than they had ever been for us. Our perspective changed and we all enjoyed being together as the family of faith. We began to realize the power of such opportunities and the partnership God was forming with us and between us. And all the while this was all going on we just began to become healthier and whole again as pastor and church.
I just left a mission faire meeting tonight in the library of our church. As we met I sensed that same excitement there. Before that the expansion committee met about the progress and ongoing work with the Vicky Sartor Memorial Youth Activities Center. As we discussed the plans and thought about what God would be doing in and through that facility as it would be used for ministry that old familiar feeling was there again. You know that feeling! That feeling that comes over you when you know that what you are doing somehow is of God. I sensed it tonight at our church in of all places two church meetings. I can’t explain its presence here this evening anymore than I can explain what happened in a small, rural church between a family of faith and their pastor. All I know is what I felt and knew in my heart. I have finally realized what makes such experiences possible in our lives. Why it is God of course. When God is present there are no words that can adequately describe what that is like. God was here again tonight. And God will be here again in the morning. We proclaim that sacred truth each Sunday. We are not alone. God is with us. Thanks be to God!!! You see in the final analysis that is the only truth worth knowing! Such presence can transform anything and anyone, even a church meeting! God is with you. Do you know that? I sure hope so because such knowing will lead you to places you never thought you would go to do things you never thought you could do. Just ask Moses, or Jacob, or Saul, or Esther, or David, or Mary, or Peter, or John, or Paul, or anyone else that came to trust the presence of this God who is working and who will never stop!! God is working, my friends, again!!!
I will see you on the road,
“To continue the journey of seeking, serving, and sharing God’s love.”
Salado United Methodist Church